Computer Chess Reviews
September 13, 2014
Set in an 80s tournament for chess software, several teams battle against each other to find the winning program that will attempt to beat a human grand master.
Filmed in retrograde black & white, this period black comedy is very nostalgic for a geek generation, but the comedy is rather niche, lightweight and rather dries up towards the end.
I'm sure the film has something clever to say, but it was lost on me. The Guest and Altman influences are in format alone. Swing and a miss.
September 1, 2014
A great premise wasted by affected writing. The movie should have had a more moderate aim and lighter tone.
January 23, 2014
Fascinating low-budget period piece - the period being the 80s - that fascinates as much as it obfuscates. Not entirely sure what to make of this genre-defying oddball. Highly original to say the least.
August 5, 2014
really weird and interesting.
November 22, 2013
What starts out looking like one of the dullest films you will ever see soon gets your head spinning as it turns out to be one of the most original and weirdest. The characters could have been dreamt up by Vic Reeves himself, and may well have been as one is surely a young "Kinky John". Imagine attending an early 80's chess tournament, or any other geeky convention, on acid.
May 27, 2014
Admirably idiosyncratic in a way so few indie movies are. I like the performances and the sorta mockumentary feel. But the movie is just lost up its own ass philosophically, and imo not really worth the contemplation it expects out of you.
May 18, 2014
I couldn't even finish this movie and thats very rare for me. I didn't find any comedy in this movie. I had to stop because i didn't even know what i was watching. I did not have a good or bad reaction, i had no reaction.
May 8, 2014
The genius of this film is in its smart-ass recreation of a weird period in American history, the very early 1980s when a new breed of computer nerds was programming now-archaic machines to challenge grandmasters (and each other) at chess. Director Andrew Bujalski has lovingly used period videography (in black and white) to capture the period outfits (bad!), characters (not just nerds but swingers and members of an encounter group) and shabby hotel environs at this low-rent conference/chess match. I think this is the first "mumblecore" film I've seen (I had to google the term) and if you aren't ready for it, the non-acting, hapless and fragmented dialogue, amateurish production values, and relatively absent plot just might trick you into thinking you are watching the real thing. Judging by the IMdB, this isn't too everyone's taste - but personally I love absurdity.
May 7, 2014
More "unlike any film you've ever seen" than any film that came out in 2013. It's thoroughly enjoyable and the type of film that can only improve upon reflection. Bonus points for showing in 1980 we weren't sure if computers could ever beat us in chess.
April 27, 2014
Film Comment says this about the film: "a series of touchingly rhapsodic variations on communion and aloneness, desire and repression, control and chaos." That may be true. It is also one strange film that leaves the viewer questioning seemingly random scenes and wondering if the filmmaker was trying to make a deeper, philosophical film. It's a good exploration of what's important to people, and it definitely will lead to interesting discussions.
March 23, 2014
A mockumentary (sort of but not exactly) set in the late '70s/early '80s of a group of computer software engineers competing against each other to find out which is the best chess-playing computer software. It's deliberately crudely shot using or at least making it seem it was using, the video and editing equipment of its time period. Honestly, I wasn't sure about it at first but it eventually won me over. Some people might get frustrated by the weird tangents this film goes but I dug it. It's laugh out loud funny at times and surprising.
March 12, 2014
Best in Show meets Spellbound (2002). But not as good as either of those movies.
February 27, 2014
This is a weird indie film, shot in black and white, that has some funny, awkwardly nerdy characters and moments. I doesn't have a strong plot, but the awkwardness of the characters gives the film a charming quality.
February 24, 2014
Amazing authenticity to the acting matches a an absolutely phot-realistic depiction of the past. Rather than glamorize it exactingly dissects a period. It's also funny.
February 24, 2014
Bastante sorprendente experimento, una especie de falso documental muy bien logrado. Buena ambientación, buenas actuaciones y ese aire de ñoñez de principios de los 80 que rayaba en la marcianidad.
February 19, 2014
Weird little comedy that mostly works.
February 6, 2014
Brilliant. Eccentric. Thought-provoking.
February 4, 2014
Intriguing story set during the course of a computer chess tournament during the early 80s; part comedy, part coming-of-age drama, with a tantalizing hint of sci-fi. The actors are rather natural and credible in all their painful awkwardness, but the film is shot in a gimmicky fake documentary style, going as far as purposefully blurring the image and applying a washed out black & white filter throughout, surely an attempt to emulate old tube TV sets, along with the glitchy editing that only serves to break up the flow of immersion the film could otherwise have achieved by taking a more traditional approach. The presence of the camera in some private scenes is never justified either. Niggles aside, to which the clumsy ending should be added, the film will appeal well to the nostalgic geek within, for the most part.
January 30, 2014
A nostalgic, geeky, funny, trippy eighties-set computer chess tournament/encounter session/freakout.
November 7, 2013
conceptionally great but too slow, too slow too slow